Album of the Day: Various Artists, “Jobcentre Rejects: Ultra Rare New Wave of British Heavy Metal 1978-1982”

Consider Jobcentre Rejects a Nuggets for a scene that barely was. On The Dole Records—a reissue imprint helmed by producer L-P Anderson and Oscar Nordblom—have titled the comp Ultra Rare New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1978-1982. It’s a designation with weight, but one that may suggest something different than what Jobcentre Rejects delivers. These 12 tracks are fuzzy and frazzled bashers, where reckless rhythm matters just a little more than grueling riffs. It’s a subtle but telling difference that separates Jobcentre’s lunkheads from the sharper edges of Diamond Head or Iron Maiden, even if Bruce Dickinson sings on Speed’s “Down The Road” under the preposterous pseudonym Bruce Bruce. The louts who populate Jobcentre Rejects come across as the ne’er-do-well brothers of Motörhead, miscreants who are more inclined to blow their money on lager than on pills. They sound boorish but not quite dangerous; they’re not out to raise a ruckus, only to have a good time.

Listen closely and the 12 obscurities—all plucked from singles or EPs issued by one-shot or limited discography labels, typically limited to 500 copies or fewer—can sound metallic in their delivery and velocity, an impression cemented by the compilation’s closer, Metal Mirror’s barreling “(Living On) English Booze.” Still, Jobcentre Rejects won’t play as metal to most modern ears, given how its contents are built on bludgeoned blues and filled with low-rent hedonism: it’s party music for burnouts. That the hyper-charged boogie can sometimes play like pub rock (a connection underscored by Spider’s “Children of the Street,” produced by Graeme Douglas, a member of Eddie & The Hot Rods) is further testament to the intoxicatingly open-ended listening experience Jobcentre Rejects offers in spite of the concrete place and time connotated by the title. It’s a bunch of ruffians out to make the loudest noise they can, a ferocious spirit immortalized on wax—captured so cheaply and quickly, the music still crackles with giddy energy.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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